"I don't think I'd survive it": Returning to normal isn't an option when you're high-risk
"I almost died from an asthma attack. My heart stopped"
We can often forget that there are so many people who are not prepared for normal life to resume. People who are high-risk are still in danger and we need to respect that they may not be ready for our world to go back to the way it once was.
We often take our health for granted until we hear a harrowing story about someone who is suffering, like Mary Katherine from Co. Clare.
She spoke to HerFamily about the fear of returning to normal when you have an underlying condition.
High-risk and vulnerable people have often been dismissed, with so many expecting them to just isolate forever so others can "get on with things", but surely they deserve to live a full life just as much as anyone else, right?
Why should someone's health issue make them less than you?
MK opened up about living with underdeveloped lungs and how nearly dying at the mere age of two has been a stark reminder of how dangerous Covid could be for her.
Born premature at just 29 weeks, MK's arrival was met with dozens of hurdles.
She now has numerous health conditions because of her early birth. The main one being underdeveloped lungs.
She suffers from asthma and breathing difficulties so something like Covid could be fatal for her.
"When I was two, I almost died from an asthma attack. My heart stopped," she revealed.
"I'm doing everything in my power to keep myself safe from Covid, I don't think I'd survive it.
She told HerFamily: "I'm very worried about the easing of restrictions, I understand that Ireland needs to open up more for the sake of people's livelihoods/businesses, but at what cost?"
Doing basic things like walking around town or popping into the local supermarket comes with so much risk for someone like MK: "When I'm in town to food shop, I feel very apprehensive.
"I've had people come very close to me in queues and walking past me - definitely not keeping their distance. It gives me a lot of anxiety."
She explained that she relies on her partner and parents to help her with shopping because people no longer respect her space.
Restrictions may be easing, but MK has vowed to continue incorporating many measures into her daily life.
"I'll continue to wear my mask everywhere, and I'm going to avoid public transport - only using it to go to work on occasion," she shared.
"I'm working remotely and I feel very grateful for that."
However, MK's partner is working in an environment where he meets the public daily. "That's a big risk for me. We meet at a distance if at all, our relationship dynamic has changed quite drastically."
"I don't feel safe enough to meet many people outside of my immediate family."
The vaccine has given MK an extra layer of protection, but that hasn't completely erased her fears and concerns.
"I feel more protected now that I'm fully vaccinated."
She wishes people realised that high-risk people are just as valuable. The struggles they face are something we need to stop brushing off.
Making them feel like nuisances or second-class citizens is the last thing the public should be doing.
"Being high risk, we can often suffer in silence and not tell the people we love how we're really feeling, because we don't want to burden them. I often feel like that. I feel very isolated and alone frequently," she admitted.
We are lucky to have so much normality and freedom again, but remember the people who are still cocooning, suffering, and isolating. They need to be extremely cautious so surely we should be as cautious as possible when out and about too.
Shouldn't we help make the world a safer place for them?
All we need to do is wear masks, social distance and clean our hands. That isn't too much of a sacrifice compared to what people like Mary Katherine have to give up, is it?
You never know who you could interact with on a daily basis, whether you're in the local cafe, bus, or supermarket, so continue to follow Covid-19 measures in order to protect these people.
They matter just as much as you and I.
Remember, we're still all in this together.